Covid-19 rules For Members

Can my employer make me work if I test positive for Covid-19?

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
Can my employer make me work if I test positive for Covid-19?
Woman sick with Covid-19. Photo: Bermix Studio / Unsplash

In March 2022, the Spanish government scrapped quarantine for those with mild or asymptomatic Covid symptoms and now masks are no longer required in most indoor situations. So what happens when you get Covid -can your employer still make you go to work?


The end of most self-isolation and mask rules in Spain means that many people may now be going to work while infected with Covid-19 and putting their colleagues at risk.

Recently, there have been several reports of companies telling their employees to come into work, even if they’re testing positive for Covid, saying that if they’re well enough to work remotely, then they’re well enough to come in and work in person.


READ ALSO: How masks became an integral part of life Spain

But can your employer really make you come to work if you have Covid? What are your rights?

Of course, if you have a serious case of Covid-19, then you can get a ‘baja’ or sick note from your doctor saying you don’t have to work.

But what if your case is milder? It’s now not uncommon for doctors to give their Covid patients a ‘baja’ for just a few days while symptoms are at their worst.

However, many people are still testing positive for Covid-19 even after the worst of their symptoms have passed and are no longer eligible for a 'baja', meaning that they have to go to work while they still have the virus.

The Spanish government recommends that those who test positive for Covid-19 be allowed to work from home where possible.

"Teleworking or job re-adaptation is recommended to avoid interaction with vulnerable groups," says the document from the Public Health Commission, both in the case of workers with "symptoms compatible" with Covid-19 and those who already have a positive diagnosis.

If this is the government’s recommendation, is it still possible for companies to make their employees go into work and not be allowed to work from home?

According to the General Union of Workers (UGT) “At the moment, there is no obligation to offer employees the possibility of teleworking in the legislation”.  In the event that the company does not enable this alternative, "preventive measures should be adopted such as cross-ventilation, a distance of one and a half meters, constant hygiene in common areas and providing everyone with masks”.

Ángela Domínguez, coordinator of the Vaccination Group of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology says "In principle, as in any disease, if a person is sick, it is better not to go (to work), especially in the acute phase. If you have very few symptoms or no symptoms and have tested positive, you can go, but it's important that you wear the mask and respect the rest of the measures”.   


The Spanish government has said that it’s up to each individual company whether they want to continue using the mask or not, but has pointed out a series of factors that should be taken into account when making it, such as the possibility that employees keep a distance of 1.5 meters, the ventilation of the space or the time in which they remain in it and has stressed that the company must take into account the "opinion" of the workers through their representatives. 

The general consensus is that if you do have mild Covid symptoms and you can’t get a 'baja' to stay home from work, then remote working is the best option. If your company won’t let you work from home or it’s not possible, then wearing a mask at work and ensuring that the room is well ventilated is the best option to protect your colleagues.

READ ALSO - Have your say: Will you continue wearing a mask indoors in Spain?

Domínguez referred to a study by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) which calculated the time needed to become infected in a closed space without ventilation.

The analysis concluded that, in the presence of a positive, another person can become infected in 15 minutes if neither of them is wearing a mask. If you and the those you interact with use an FFP2 mask, this time can go up to as much as 25 hours.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also